Monday, March 28, 2011

Autism Awareness Month Starts April 1st - Come show your support!

Hello Aspierations friends!

I'm stopping in for a quick hello and to let everyone who follows or occasionally visits the Aspierations blog to know that Friday, April 1st, 2011 marks the beginning of this year's Autism Awareness month. (That includes Asperger's too... and everyone along the autism spectrum.)

Last year I made a pledge to blog every day during the month of April and this year, I plan to do the same. Considering my blogging has been rather light as of late, I am looking forward to recharging my batteries and promoting acceptance, awareness, empowerment and support to those in the autism community as well as their family, friends and caregivers.

I have lots to say, however if there are any particular topics you'd like me to cover throughout the month, please let me know and I'll do my best to fit them in.


Thanks to those who responded to my last "discombobulation" blog. I'm taking things day by day and have faith that my journey will continued be enriched by my faith and the support of family and Aspierations friends.

Let's make this month of April an Awesome one!
Love and positive thoughts,
Karen

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Venting, Free thought, Discombobulation... a day in my life

Hi Aspierations Friends,

Well, my blogging routine certainly came to a grinding halt.  For those of you who came back and found me writing again, thanks for your patience and perseverance.

Some days I feel I can take on the world... be SuperMOM, SuperWIFE, SuperBUSINESSWOMAN, SuperDAUGHTER, SuperFRIEND, SuperASPIE... and then some days I just want to crawl into bed, snuggle underneath the covers and sleep for 24 hours straight.

Although having my own business generally does equate with long hours, the amount of time I've been putting into work lately has been pretty insane.  I wish I could figure out a positive way to change that however it seems like the harder I work, the longer my hours become.  I want to work smarter, not harder...  It ticks me off that I haven't yet found a way to balance my life and my checkbook better!

It's frustrating to not feel inside I have the time to blog and follow the path with Aspierations that I feel called to do.  I love to write and I think blogging is a venue in which I could provide our family with lots of opportunity.  I find myself however looking at my bank balance each day and realize that with just 24 hours in the day, I need to make sure my house is in order first.  Priority-wise, I need to make sure my family is taken care of and that means (in no particular order) emotionally, financially, physically and spiritually. Security... so important!

Ahhh... to have financial security...  to not have to worry about a mortgage payment or debt... to be able to focus on taking care of the kids and making sure their needs are met and they are empowered.  To be able to have a little extra to travel... see my parents... maybe join a family bowling league... take a break every once in awhile... be able to volunteer more... invest in furthering my education...

You know why I made time to write tonight?  John is gone camping again with Justin and the Boy Scouts so it's me home with Ryan and I just got him to bed.  Normally at this point I would work until John wanted to call it a night but having some time here to myself, I said that I'll get my work done that I have to (there's always more that can be done) and then I'm going to do something for me.  I'm going to blog!

In the past few months, Justin has had lots of positive experiences with camping and at his next Court of Honor he will have moved up in rank from Tenderfoot (I hope that's right) to Second Class to First Class. He will get both the Second Class and First Class honors at the same time.  John has really worked alongside him to help encourage him to achieve his goals but the steps outside the comfort zone and a lot of the initiative taking has come directly from Justin.

I'll admit, John's involvement as Assistant Scoutmaster and Justin's activities for Boy Scouts do take up quite a bit of time.  There are occasions that I really wished I had more help but I realize inside that what Justin is doing is positive.  I also realize that John needs breaks from Count Your Beans and me and being cooped up in the house.  He is a pretty social animal and he feels a real calling to be involved with Boy Scouting.  He is even working on a book project about Autism and Scouting.  I have to say I have mixed feelings about that.

The project itself is awesome.  I am proud of him.  I am glad he is writing it.  I think it is a well needed guide and reference.

The mixed feelings come in because I feel sometimes like I am left to do all the business stuff myself and to figure out our life's journey and plan.  I feel like the weight of the world and our family's future is on my shoulders and to be quite honest, I sometimes need a break too.  I would occasionally like some time for activities, hobbies and positive pursuits as well.  I miss bowling...  I miss writing...  I'd love to get involved in more family activities with the boys.  I think it would be fun to take a voice-over class, dancing with John, golf, tennis, racquetball.  I miss my more active days...

I suppose you might be wondering why I just don't go out and do these things?

I would answer that if we could just get to a point where we could get secure financially... and I don't mean wealthy, I mean not having to work 80 hours a week to just make it through the month... then I would feel more comfortable about taking a couple hours off here and there.

My reprieve for a lot of last year was actually blogging. When readers (assuming there are any left) would see me disappear is when family, financial and work matters called me away.

You know, this really isn't what I was originally going to blog about.  I'm just letting the thoughts flow tonight because I'm not sure when the next time I'm going to blog will be.  Hopefully it will be soon.  I do plan to blog more regularly for Autism Awareness month in April and that's just around the corner.

For those who stumbled onto this post, I guess what I'm doing is venting a bit.  Not in an angry way but I guess in trying to free some strong emotions I'm feeling inside...

Incidentally, I'm not throwing myself a pity party.  On the contrary, I am trying to give myself a kick in the butt and a jump start to try and figure out how to re-prioritize my life, my family, my spirituality and my business so that things are better aligned.  The health in this family over the past couple months has been a challenge. Ryan and John have been sick a lot and then I end up not feeling well and poor Justin was finally affected a couple weeks ago.  I think since November it has been cycling around and it seems like every time there is a camping trip (no offense, John... it's just truth), that there is more sleep deprivation and colds and flu bugs and it cycles around again.  Once Ryan catches a bug, it lasts a long time and this family needs to be feeling good again. The last few months have been so draining.  It's hard to get revved up when you feel your tank being empty and there is no gas in the cars around you to siphon.

When I do get down, I try and tell myself to visualize and think about all my blessings. I try and pray for guidance.  That usually works, however it also has a side effect of making me fall back into my workaholic tendencies to try and support those wonderful people I am blessed with...

I'm at a place in my life where I wish I could make things more simple and yet increasingly, daily issues happen that seem to make my life more complex.  As I struggle to find more focus and direction, I get caught up in daily minutiae that eats up at my time.

Despite my best intentions to get on a schedule and stay organized, having 2 boys on the autism spectrum means there is a lot of unpredictability.  I can predict that there will be daily challenges and I can predict that there will be nightly challenges and also some in the wee hours of the morning.

Having an online retail business which takes a lot of administrative time is also unpredictable.  I can say that on average, I'm going to answer a hundred work emails in a day but how many will be simple and how many will want (or require) a very lengthy response?

I feel guilty about not volunteering more.  Every day I get literally dozens of emails from different groups within the autism, Asperger's and special education community.  A lot of them want calls to action, volunteer time and money, things I wish I could afford to give.

Visually I feel at times like I'm on a sinking ship and physically inside it affects me too.  I try to put on a good face, keep on that mask when needed, remove it when I feel safe and be in multiple places at once, all the while trying to give the best of myself to God, my kids and my husband.  I try to be the best online retailer I can be.  I want to put my heart and passion into people, causes and activities I love but I keep getting pulled back by the financial anchor around my waist.

For if I can't pay the bills, we can't live in this house, we'd have nowhere to live and the kids wouldn't go to the schools where they are getting specialized care.  They have made SUCH amazing progress.  Ryan is likely going to be attending Kindergarten in a mainstream class next year with learning support and a social program like SCIP to assist.  Justin just made honor roll the second trimester in a row and through the relationships he's formed with his aide and SCIP teacher, he's really blossoming as well.

John feels he is following a passion and calling with his volunteering and activism with Scouting and his group "Autism and Scouting".

I can't let down my family...

And so I work and work and work and work and work some more.
Praying to God for guidance....
Trying to show my family a brave and positive front...
Making sure to be there for my children...
And my husband...

Wanting to see my parents in California... and realizing it just isn't financially feasible except for maybe once a year and realizing that stinks because the years keep passing and I miss them and I feel our phone conversations and emails are not enough...

Wondering about my extended family...

Wondering if I'm really making a difference in this world... and if something happened to me unexpectedly, what would happen to my family.

You see, a classmate of mine from high school recently passed away.  She was bright and attractive, popular and well-liked by many in the school. We were a couple weeks apart in age and had some classes together but we ran in different social circles.  (Mine was more like a social square...)

I don't know how she passed, just that it was sudden and unexpected and that she had never married or had children.  I have given a lot of thought to this woman lately and hope she is resting in peace knowing that she made a positive difference in the lives of many.  (There was a memorial page set up for her on Facebook by a high school friend of mine and the comments that have been left so far are beautiful.)

Knowing that someone who I perceived as young and vibrant could pass away so suddenly...  Of course I know people pass every day.  It's just not usually people that I know that are my age.

So I am thinking as I am praying for her family and friends... what would happen if I passed?  Are my affairs in order? (No...)  Have I accomplished what I want to? (No...)  Would my kids and John and parents be taken care of? What kind of memories would I have left with those whose paths I had crossed?

In thinking about these things, I teeter back and forth between being grateful for being alive today and having the chance to let the people I love know I care about them and anxious because I feel that my life plan has veered off the path intended.  Of course my plan for my path and God's plan for me might be something entirely different but I do know I still have lots left to be done and I seem to have lost my roadmap and a GPS is nowhere to be found.

Wow... I just looked at the time.  I've been caught up in thought and emotion and didn't realize that I went 19 minutes past the deadline I set for myself for blogging.  Yikes!

Well... before my blog posting becomes even more discombobulated and I bring in a psychologist to analyze everything I've just written, I think I'll go ahead and stop here and bid you adieu.

I realize I didn't really tidy things up nicely...
And I suppose if you read this far you might be wondering what comes next?

Yeah, me too....

I guess time will tell....
and if I think I have time to blog... I'll probably tell as well here too.

Wishing you the path to your personal best...
Where letting your light shine is easy and the batteries never run out!

Karen